Stuff You Should Know: Sex & Aftercare

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words by Lina Dune (she/her)
@askasub

Last week, we spoke with Lina Dune of @askasub to discuss the link between kink, capitalism, and control as we navigate the upending of our lives during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, we’re sharing an original piece by Lina to build upon the two most important components of BDSM play—intuition and boundary-setting—to learn all about aftercare. 

As a BDSM educator, I’m often asked how newbies can differentiate safe partners from posers. My answer? Aftercare. In BDSM, it’s a non-negotiable hallmark of safe play, and potential partners can demonstrate trustworthiness by being aware of it and respectful of its necessity. But once you learn what it is and how it can be practiced, aftercare has the ability to transcend BDSM and support any and every sexual practice. 


WHAT IS AFTERCARE?

Aftercare refers to a consciously cultivated time post-BDSM scene, or post-sex, that gives both or all partners a chance to decompress from the heat of the moment, connect with each other, and make an easy transition back into the “real world.”


WHY DO WE PRACTICE AFTERCARE?

Aside from just making intuitive sense as a way of demonstrating empathy to your partner, aftercare is essential for avoiding post-coital dysphoria (feelings of tearfulness and anxiety after sex), or providing proper support for it if it does arise. 

“Sub Drop” is a more specified form of post-coital dysphoria that results from the comedown from the adrenaline and endorphins subs experience in a scene. It may happen immediately post-scene, or can crop up days later. It can feel lonely, “small” or just overwhelming.

Top Drop, basically the inverse for Dom(me)s, deals more often with shame from having transgressed against societal taboos, and is equally important to watch out for. 

Aftercare’s primary function is to meet any and all post-scene feelings without shame, and to signal safety and comfort to the nervous system.


HOW DO WE PRACTICE AFTERCARE?

The how of an aftercare practice is incredibly specific to the needs of the partners involved. However, each should come to it with some idea of what soothes them, and communicate that prior to any play beginning. Whereas one person might need to listen to calming music, another might need total silence. And it can vary by the day. 

Regardless, below are some suggestions to get you started. If any of these feel right, try it! The point is to consciously create some kind of moment after sex or scene that signals that it’s time to transition out, but gently. 

Non-sexual cuddling. This is a classic way of connecting and coming back to your body.

Hearing positive affirmations from your partner, or even just hearing their voice. If you’re not feeling particularly wordy, even humming can do the trick. This is also  a great time to talk about things that worked during the scene, and to properly thank your partner for the great time you had! If there were things that didn’t work, save these comments for a less tender moment, and do your best to deliver them with “I” statements.

Have an orgasm, either with your partner’s help or with a toy while they hold you.

Eat a snack.

Drink a glass of water or a cup of tea.

Watch a light/comedic movie.

Listen to a pre-prepared aftercare playlist of soothing/feel-good music.

Soak in a bath. Throw some of that amazing tonic on in there.

Get moving. Take a walk or having a little dance party.

Invite calm into the moment by indulging in your favorite self care ritual with familiar/soothing scents. Momotaro products are excellent for this and can be used post-sex to soothe your body and settle your mind. I like to keep my Hydrosol handy after every post-sex pee (UTI prevention, but make it luxurious), and my Salve on the nightstand for a dab in case of any leftover discomfort.

It’s your nervous system and just like how you get to choose how your have sex (and who you have sex with), you get to soothe how you want. You deserve it. 

relationships sex ed

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